Crackdown puts spotlight on dismal condition of govt-run shelter homes in Uttarakhand | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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Crackdown puts spotlight on dismal condition of govt-run shelter homes in Uttarakhand

Dismal conditions at government-run shelter homes have again come to spotlight after the police booked staff of a children’s home in Dehradun for negligence, which allegedly led to death of two kids and disability of another

dehradun Updated: Nov 06, 2017 20:32 IST
Neha Pant & Nihi Sharma
Activists have raised concerns about poor conditions, hygiene and security measures at government-run shelter homes in the past.
Activists have raised concerns about poor conditions, hygiene and security measures at government-run shelter homes in the past.(HT File)

Dismal conditions at government-run shelter homes have again come to spotlight after the police booked staff of a children’s home in Dehradun for negligence, which allegedly led to death of two kids and disability of another.

Similarly, the women’s shelter home at Dehradun has been in the news in the past for wrong reasons, including abuse and forced abortion of a disabled inmate and some deaths.

Two infants died at Kedarpuram-based children’s home in Dehradun in 2016, allegedly due to negligence of caretakers and a former pharmacist, revealed an investigation report by then additional secretary (social welfare) Manoj Chandran. Another girl, who is about 7-year-old now, still suffers from the horrors of negligence. Her lower torso got burnt with hot water due to the staff’s carelessness, which left the child with debilitating injuries that led to disability.

Based on the report, the Dehradun police booked on Saturday seven people, including former pharmacist Hari Krishna Semwal and caretakers Manda, Shanti, Deepa, Sushila, Sarojini and Karan. “They were booked under Section 75 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Further investigation is going on,” said Nivedita Kukreti Kumar, Dehradun senior superintendent of police.

Ashok Kumar, additional director general of police (law and order), on Monday said a special investigation team (SIT) was formed to probe the case of alleged negligence and other irregularities by the staff of the children’s home. “The SIT will comprise police officers, who will be assisted by an official each from health and social welfare departments in the investigation.”

“Full assistance and cooperation will be provided to the police and authorities in the investigation,” Dehradun district probation officer Meena Bisht told HT.

Such shocking stories emerging from the government-run shelter homes are not new. The children’s home in Dehradun comprises two wings — Shishu Sadan (for children from 0-10 years of age) and Balika Niketan (for girls aged between 11 and 18 years).

On the same campus runs the Dehradun Nari Niketan (shelter home for women), which shot to controversy after a case of sexual exploitation and later forced abortion of a hearing- and speech-impaired inmate surfaced in November 2015. It created a huge uproar, with even officials from the National Commission for Women inspecting the shelter home.

In December the same year, two women inmates died reportedly due to malnutrition and lack of medical care, while several others were hospitalised.

Activists have raised concerns about poor conditions, hygiene and security measures at other government-run shelter homes in the past. Uttarakhand has four women’s shelter homes — one each in Dehradun, Haldwani, Kotdwar and Tehri — where women rescued from distress situations by the police or the district administration are lodged. There are five children’s homes — one each for children of 0-10 years of age in Dehradun and Almora, one each for girls of 11-18 years in Dehradun and Almora, and one for boys of 11-18 years in Haridwar.

Social welfare minister Yashpal Arya said the government was serious about the welfare of children and women at the shelter homes and that “strictest action will be taken” against those found guilty. “I have asked officials to take stock of facilities and ensure regular monitoring of all other shelter homes across the state so that such incidents don’t recur,” Arya told HT.